The Empty Trap

"Someone seems very clever for a neko," she muttered, to the empty trap.

She'd been particularly convinced of the daftness of felines by the last trap she'd checked, where she'd found a female neko having an entire conversation with herself on the merrits of ham versus picture frames as being the best fiber for spining. This trap, however, had not only snapped closed while failing to capture a neko, it had surrendered its goodies to the creature with seeming to have posed the slightest resistance.

She hummed to herself as she reset the trap, this time with a turkey leg, a nearly live rat, and partly finished word-cross puzzle with fountain pen. She left the puzzle in part as an impromptu intelligence test, but mostly because she was stuck on 19 across; a six letter word beginning with "I" and meaning unhinged.


The traps were set and baited with rabbits, catnip, and French postcards. To Wren’s way of thinking, no Neko could resist. She’d placed the traps carefully on rooftops and in alleyways, but so far, all she’d caught was a stray dog.

In the mean time, she was back to her attempts to lead kindly seeming passersby to their demise.

A sweet-faced nun fastened a helmet over her wimple, a curious smile playing across her lips. “It’s rather awkward, dear.” Even as she said the words, the top heavy iron spiked made the headgear pivot forward on her head. Wren stood with her feet apart, hands on her hips. “Sister, could you maybe hold the prayer hat upright?” She surveyed the dark clouds above and added “I don’t think the experiment will take long.” Sister Danielle nodded without thinking, but was able to catch the helmet before it slid forward enough to pose a threat to the little construct standing before her.

Wren moved to hide in the doorway of the rooftop stairwell. The building wasn’t the highest in Babbage, but she thought it unlikely she could get the nun to do the kinds of climbing and jumping required to get any higher, so she was restricted to places with easy access.

As the first, fat drops of rain began to fall, she called out to the woman “ok, Sister.. start praying.” She crouched low and watched the cooperative nun try to manage the lightening rod strapped to her head and commune with the almighty at the same time. Wren smiled, the woman looked angelic. She was going to like having the sister for a sister.

What Wren hadn’t taken into account, as she stood beneath the shelter of the covered stairwell, was that the nun, with her lightening-rod prayer-helmet, was not the highest point on the building, nor was the lightening rod atop her head the highest metal. Instead, the unsuspecting child huddled beneath the weathervane adorning the angled roof of stairs.

She would have no later memory of the flash and ear ringing crack of lightening that arched from the cloud, to the metal rooster, and leaped to the brass frame of her mechanical heart. She would only know she’d woken in the arms of the frantic nun. Her dress was scorched, her hair frizzed, and when she cleaned herself later, she would admire the burn mark which spanned across her torso like torn lace. The heat of the lightening had melted the brass frame of her heart, and warped cogs moved erratically, but she was able to get down the stairs with the nun’s help.

She picked a nearby house which seemed unoccupied and told Sister Danielle it was her residence. Slipping quietly in through the stranger’s front door, she waited in the hallway until she was certain the sister had gone beyond sight.

In the January drizzle, the little construct staggered the whole mile back to the laboratory to be repaired.

The Founder's Orders

“My...our...firstborn son has returned to this city. He has forgotten what he is. You must find him.”

Wren leaned back in the seat, The Founder’s words echoing in her memory. Meeting him had been a frightening experience.

The Scientist had nodded off in his chair and fallen into a nightmare from which a desperate argument had broken through the paralysis of sleep, his words ringing through the laboratory “you call that a choice?’ She eavesdropped on his half of the dream conversation for a time, but when she couldn’t make any sort of sense from it, she cautiously tried to wake him. What woke was not The Scientist she knew.

The man with the red eyes and pasty skin shot his clawed hand out to snatch her by the hair, ripping locks from her scalp. “You risk your soul over THIS? Another PET?" he growled. Wren yelped at the pain, her small hands grasping at his to no effect. He held her firmly with one fist at the back of her head hand as the other hand clamped over her crying mouth. The contempt in his voice was more than she’d ever heard, much less had directed toward her. "He insults his -real- children by making these dolls,” he spat.

Wren stilled, a sense of alarm chilling her chest at the dehumanizing language. If the creature thought of her as only a doll or a pet, and an insulting one at that, it would mean nothing to take her life. Her voice held a tight edge as she asked “who are you?”

In answer, he lifted a medallion from the table beside them. She’d been unaware of it before but it now dangled before her eyes, demanding her attention. The symbol on it was a stepped pyramid with demonic wings at the apex flanking a pyre. He pressed it into her hand to let her feel its power crackle. "I am the Founder that your maker invokes under his breath! My name is feared throughout these lands, even by my own kin!” He rose as he spoke, lifting her by her upper arms in a bruising grip. Her feet kicked helplessly above the ground and she held his forearms to keep from falling if he suddenly dropped her.

He peered at her, his glowing eyes flaring red as he studied her. She had the distinct impression he was peering into her mind and soul. “You’ve been through worse, much worse. You have the potential to be more.” He interrupted himself to snarl “Stop screaming, Darien. She can’t hear you.” Wren pressed her lips together to stifle a whimper. The Founder leaned over her, his voice lowered and more menacing in its softness than it had been in a scowl. "I have an assignment for you.”

Wren listened closely as the Founder informed her she was to seek out and bring to The Scientist his son, a Bloodtail Neko by the name of Koen who has forgotten what he is. If she were to succeed, he would be made to remember and she was given the vague promise of being made into more than she is. If she were to fail, The Scientist’s soul would be ripped apart by the reanimation serum which gives him life, and by extension, her as well.

Sixteen hours later, the child buried her face in her bunny’s soft fur and sobbed. She had no notion how to find the young man. She’d spent all day in the Department of Records and Archives but had turned up no information on him and she had no idea where to look, or how to get him to The Scientist .

Having allowed herself a minute’s self-pity, she raised her head and put it aside. She stared at the columns upon columns of cards she had yet to search through. From the corner of her eye, a shadow scurried along the skirting board, followed by an almost simultaneous snap and squeak.

Wren blinked. A trap! That’s what she needed, a trap!

She knew not where the neko was, but she knew something of neko habits, often up on rooftops and always interested in stalking small, twitchy creatures. She smiled down to the bunny in her arms and with an optimism which must fully ignore her previous failures in order to exist, she started making plans for a neko-trap.

About Me

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I have a mechanical heart and green reanimation serun for blood. I have glowing eyes that look like The Scientist's, but they're not his, they just look the same. I don't like swimming on account of I think my pilot light might go out.